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Defence procurement has been one of the biggest machines for wasting money

MPs to review policing reforms

MPs will investigate the effect that the most radical reforms to policing in 50 years will have on the future of the service, it was announced today.

Senior doctor calls for drugs law reform

Illegal drugs should be decriminalised because the blanket ban has failed to cut crime or improve health, a leading doctor has said.

17,000 immigration appeals unopposed

Thousands of appeals against immigration decisions succeeded last year without the Home Office even attending a hearing to defend its original rejections, figures showed today.

Hodge wins secret ballot to chair spending watchdog

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister, has been handed one of the most powerful backbench jobs in the Commons after winning the election to lead parliament's government spending watchdog.

<i>IoS</i> 'One of the Above' campaign letters special

Voting is indeed "one of the most precious freedoms we can have", but the low turnouts in recent elections have shown just how few people in this country appreciate it. Low participation diminishes our democracy, and it would be a devastating blow if the expenses scandal and general political disillusionment were to deter even more people from taking part.

Government urged to act on would-be young offenders

The Government needs to place more emphasis on early intervention when it comes to identifying and dealing with potential young offenders, a group of MPs said today.

Questions raised over value of DNA crime matches

DNA matches from the national database help solve as few as one crime in every 1,300, it was claimed today.

Forced marriage victims' calls going unanswered

Funding cuts to helpline could lead to service closing down within six months

The Sketch: Who would die in a ditch with Patricia Hewitt?

But what on earth were they up to? What did they think they were doing? It's marvellous how bad politicians are at this sort of thing. They couldn't organise an act of congress on a porn set.

Jerome Taylor: Keith Vaz's familiar outrage cuts no ice with gamers

For those who play computer games the furore over the latest Call of Duty title is an all too predictable and depressingly familiar controversy. At least once every year a politician – normally one who has never picked up an Xbox controller in their life – howls with outrage and righteous indignation at the latest software release to have upset the moral brigade.

Paul Vale: The Modern Warfare 2 outcry is woefully predictable

As laughable as it was predictable, MP Keith Vaz has criticised the publication of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a new game from Activision that features scenes of violence and places gamers in scenarios where they are asked to decide whether to kill civilians in order to infiltrate a group of Russian terrorists.

Minister faces inquiry over illegal worker

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, was fighting for her political career last night as immigration officials began an investigation into how she came to hire an illegal worker as a housekeeper.

Probe into law chief's illegal worker

Immigration officials launched an investigation today into revelations that the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, employed an illegal migrant.

John Walsh: Only a t*** would not know the meaning of the word

Just as David Cameron missed the point last year about the song "Eton Rifles" by The Jam (it's not, in fact, a recruiting hymn to the school cadet force, as Paul Weller had to explain to him), he now fails to realise that one doesn't use the word "twat" in polite company.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
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James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
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Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick